The Road and the Miles yet again

Jack’s guest post continues the story of cars he owned – –

The first car I ever owned was an Austin ‘12/6’ (a big six), which I bought from a fellow apprentice house painter, Alan Mitchell, who was a couple of years older than me.

It was a 1936 model and I was in my late teens, so it must have been around 1959 when I acquired it.

Austin 12/6

It was a very up-market vehicle when it was made and had all sorts of desirable fitments. The windscreen had a handle to turn so you could open it for fresh air; The interior door caps and dash board were polished walnut; there was a sun blind on the rear window that could be lowered via a cord by the driver; there were folding down tables and foot rests on the back of the front seats also in walnut.

But – –

Although it had a reliable engine that started pretty easily it was getting a bit elderly and various other things were emerging. The tires were pretty worn and in the case of one, the inner tube was even showing. In addition, the muffler was developing a few holes. The UK government introduced mandatory safety inspections in 1960 and I couldn’t see a way to pay for having new tires and a new muffler fitted (even if they were still available for such an old car).

So, along with some friends who played in a jazz band, we had a glorious and musical final trip to a local coastal village where it was parked behind some bushes and we walked to the nearest bus stop.

I still remember it fondly!

Hey, Ho for the Open Road #2

Jack manages to just get over the line again – – –

I have spent the last few days, as everyone does at this time of year, failing to start my push lawnmower. It reminded me of something!

When I was just five or six years old my dad bought his first car – a 2nd (or maybe 3rd) hand 1936 Hillman Minx and on damp cold mornings it would often prove difficult to start. That’s when he had to ‘ca the haunle’ (use the starting handle). If you look carefully at the picture you can see an opening just above the front bumper, at the bottom of the grille. He would insert the handle through that and it engaged with the engine. If the battery was low, then that’s how folk started most cars back then!

I’m sure you can imagine how dispiriting that could be on a cold wet morning. If the engine was flooded with gas then it could backfire and could easily break your thumb if you weren’t holding the handle correctly!

But very few people we knew then in the late 1940s had cars so we were lucky. I remember many excursions to local beauty spots and beaches, although we often had stop along the way for Dad to tinker with the Minx – it was well named – –

He needed a vehicle for his work as a self-employed painter and decorator, and he moved on to more reliable transport over the succeeding years, but I have fond memories of that first one.